Spoilers, You will die.
There is a high probability that I will be committed to an insane asylum after writing this next paragraph but hear me out. Our Don’t Die, Mr Robot! review;
During my time with Don’t Die, Mr Robot, there was one song that inexplicably came to mind over and over. I don’t particularly like this song but its first few lines perfectly describes how I feel about Mr Robot. That song is Lose Yourself by Eminem and the lyrics go a little something like this;
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs.
But he keeps on forgetting what he wrote down,
The whole crowd goes so loud
Think I have lost my mind? Allow me to explain…
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy”
Don’t Die, Mr Robot! is a perfect example of a developer nailing down a simplistic system and then tweaking and twisting it to really put some meat on a games bones. As the name suggests, the game is about preventing Mr Robot from shifting off of his mortal coil – something which is easier said than done. Each game starts with Mr Robot in the centre of the screen, sitting, smiling back at you with his cheeky grin. Then all hell breaks loose. The edge of the screen explodes with warning signs which hail the arrival of Mr Robot’s would-be assassins, a cast of robotic missiles, machines and miscreants, each with their own method of getting across the screen. Akin to a bullet-hell game, the aim is to survive by avoiding all of the enemies that are thrown at you. So what does this have to do with sweaty palms, weak knees and heavy arms? The basic premise of Don’t Die, Mr Robot! is twitchy, tense and nail biting. The screen can quickly fill with a horde of enemies leaving tiny spaces for Mr Robot to squeeze through making your buttocks tense up. Of course, Mr Robot has his own unique method of fighting back – Fruit. Yes. You read that right. Fruit. Randomly spawning around the screen are pieces of fruit (Cherry’s, Oranges, Apples, Grapes and more) which let out a shock wave when ever Mr Robot picks them up. Any enemies caught within that shock-wave are destroyed, freeing up a little breathing room for the titular hero. If another piece of fruit is within range of the blast radius, you can kick off some great chains which spread across the screen taking any enemies with them and increasing your score in the process. It’s a simple premise but it works really, really well.
“There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti”
Don’t Die, Mr Robot! has a retro feel thanks to its art style. It’s bright and simplistic, bringing back memories of a by-gone age of gaming. Think TxK meets Pacman and you are along the right lines. The parallax-like base, colourful enemies and, of course, Mr Robot himself combine together to create an assault on your retinas. It’s not unpleasant but can be totally over whelming at times. There were a few of the Remix levels that really boggled my eyes because the base was completely off-kilter from the movement of the game.
“He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs”
Dropping (fruit) bombs does much more than just remove Mr Robot’s attackers – it increases your score. Don’t Die, Mr Robot! has several different modes, all of which offer something a little different. The games “Arcade” mode is the simplistic never ending survival-’em-up which gets more and more difficult the longer you play. The only aim is to survive and your only measure of success is your score which is racked up by obliterating your would-be attackers. Don’t Die’s “Chill Out” mode is the opposite end of the spectrum. Enemies move in slow motion across the screen and fruit spawns less regularly. It’s quite relaxing but can be tense when the screen is full of slow moving robots. The Time Attack mode is my weapon in Mr Robot’s arsenal. With only 2 and a half minuets at your disposal, you are challenged to pull together the highest score possible.
Lastly, the Remix mode – a set of 50 different challenges each with their own goal, is where you will be spending most of your time. Each Remix test has different criteria which change the way you play the game. Restricting movement to a horizontal or vertical plane, having a polar opposite magnetic effect on fruit and making certain fruits dangerous to Mr Robot are just a few of the variants that the Remix mode throws at you. The aim of the remix mode is to stay alive for long enough/score enough to unlock in-game bronze, silver, gold and platinum trophies, each of which award points that unlock further Remix’s. Here is where Don’t Die, Mr Robot! stumbles…
“But he keeps on forgetting what he wrote down”
The Remix mode should be the best thing about Don’t Die, Mr Robot but the game does little to explain the mode, the trophies, the targets or what to do. When you start each Remix for the first time, your first target, the bronze trophy time/score is displayed in the top right of the screen. The silver, gold and platinum times are not shown until they become your next target score/time. In this type of game, when gunning for the Platinum is the whole purpose, it seems daft not to display this score/time before or during the Remix. Several times during the Remix mode I have pinned myself in a corner to wait out what I thought would be the last few seconds of the challenge only to be wiped out before the end of the Remix. The trophy “points” are also a mystery, with no details on what trophy awards what points. These might seem like small, niggly issues but they cause a rankle in an otherwise addictive game mode.
“The whole crowd goes so loud”
It is worth mentioning the Don’t Die, Mr Robot soundtrack which can flip from the sublime to the ridiculous. The majority of the tracks used during play are old-school synth beats with plenty of bass but there are a hand full of fast paced electro tracks and a guitar riff in there for good measure. The sound tracks alone are toe-tappingly pleasing on the ear but once the games sound effects – specifically the Vegas Slot machine chimes – are layered over them, the game can create quite a din.
It would be easy to pass up Don’t Die, Mr Robot based on the simplistic premise and retro-styled graphics but Infinite State Games have done an admirable job of creating an addictive, twitch game from a basic idea. The Remix mode could have done with a little more polish in terms of displaying goals and the sound effects can be irritating at times but it is easy to lose an hour to Mr Robots desperate plea for survival without even noticing it. !!!Terrible Joke Alert!!! You could say…You “Lose Yourself“…
Bonus: As both of the Vita’s thumb sticks control Mr Robot, the game is suitable for both right-handed and southpaw gamers.
Developer: Infinite State Games
Publisher: Infinite State Games
Don’t Die, Mr Robot is available now on PSVita and PlayStation TV.
Full Disclosure: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a code for the game.
You can find all of our review over on the PSGamer Review Leader Board.